A visionary film festival will make its first debut on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 27 and 28, at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC). The Maui Angkor Wat International Film Festival fundraiser will feature two days of movies dedicated to environmental and cultural preservation, as well as honoring great music around the planet.
Taking its name from the world's largest temple complex--the exotic, mystifying, thousand-year-old Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia--the festival is a fundraiser for the second annual Angkor Wat International Film Festival, which will return to Cambodia in February 2013.
Maui's Mental Health Kokua is co-presenting the fundraiser with Emmy-winning Maui filmmaker Dr. Tom Vendetti, who launched the first Angkor Wat festival earlier this year. With many Cambodian films on the schedule, along with other movies from China, France, Bhutan, The Netherlands and the U.S., the festival is a celebration of global harmony, as well as the unique relationship between Cambodia and Maui forged by Vendetti and his filmmaking collaborators, including his longtime co-producer, Robert C. Stone.
The Maui Angkor Wat International Film Festival fundraiser will feature two days of movies dedicated to environmental and cultural preservation, as well as honoring great music around the planet.
It began several years ago, when Sam Khong, an exiled Cambodian living on Maui, was receiving treatment for depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from Mental Health Kokua. When Khong realized he needed to return to Cambodia to search for the family he had not seen in nearly three decades, Mental Health Kokua's staff and board members raised the money to send him home. Vendetti chronicled Khong's journey in an emotional documentary of spiritual recovery, "Years of Darkness," before going on to produce other projects seen nationally on PBS including the Emmy-winning film, "Bhutan: Taking the Middle Path to Happiness."
Returning Khong to his homeland also sowed the seeds for the Angkor Wat Film Festival when Vendetti was put in touch with Bernie Krisher, a pioneering journalist in the region and a humanitarian responsible for building more than 400 schools across Cambodia. When Krisher suggested the impoverished, war-torn country needed its own film festival, Vendetti took the call to heart and brought it to fruition earlier this year.
The Oct. 27-28 fundraiser at the MACC will allow Maui audience members to become supporters of the unique connection between the two cultures, and will also offer glimpses of the mystical, monumental powers of Angkor Wat, an ancient site of architectural wonders intertwining the Buddhist and Hindu faiths.
Sam Khong and Dr. Tom Vendetti will be in attendance at the fundraiser.
Tickets are $10 per screening, or $24 for three screenings. The first 240 to arrive will receive a bonus DVD of Vendetti's latest film, "When the Mountain Calls--Nepal Tibet Bhutan," which is currently screening on PBS affiliates across the nation.
To learn more about the 2013 Angkor Wat International Film Festival, visit www.angkorwatfilmfestival.com. For more information about the Maui Angkor Wat International Film Festival fundraiser, contact the MACC Box Office at (808) 242-7469, or visit www.mauiarts.org.